McIntyre: Visual Attention and Perception in Driving: Evaluation of Alternative Automobile Rear Lighting Systems in the Context of Visual Search

Visual Attention and Perception in Driving:
Evaluation of Alternative Automobile Rear Lighting Systems in the Context of Visual Search

Scott E. McIntyre
Clemson University

Committee: Lee Gugerty (Chair), Rick Tyrell, Eric Muth and Fred Switzer.

Room 419 Brackett
Thursday September 15, 2011 at 1:30pm

ABSTRACT
Two experiments are proposed to demonstrate that detection of red automobile brake lamps will be improved if tail lamps are amber/yellow, rather than red, as currently mandated. Experiment 1(1a and 1b) is the first experiment to examine this issue in a dynamic driving simulator. Experiment 2 is a field study replication and extension of Experiment 1 and a previous simulation study. Results from both experiments should indicate that RT and error are reduced in detecting the presence and absence of red brake lamps when tail lamps are not red compared to current rear lighting where brake and tail lamps share the same color and spatial location or by separating the red brake and red tail lamps spatially. This performance improvement is attributed to pre-attentive visual processing that automatically segregates tail (yellow) and brake (red) lamp colors into distracters and targets respectively. Additionally, it is suggested that previous and current methodologies employed in testing rear lighting are inadequate at testing vehicular signals given important perceptual and attentional limitations of drivers and thus do not ensure that rear lighting meets the purpose stated by federal regulators.

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